Today I saw that a lot of people come to my blog searching for sandal gap…I mention it in Julian Thomas’ birth story about soft markers for Down syndrome. So I decided to do some research and find out the facts about a sandal gap. What is a sandal gap you ask? It involves medial displacement of the big toe, giving rise to a greater than normal space between the first and second toes. Like this:
Note: This is not Julian’s foot above…I stole this from Google images. He does have a small sandal gap…will try to get a photo of it.
A sandal gap can be considered a soft marker for Down syndrome, but only that – a soft marker. And it also occurs in the general population Did you know that only 45% of individuals with Down syndrome have a sandal gap? Source: The Korean Radiological Society.
What does a sandal gap look like on an ultrasound?
Does having a sandal gap on an ultrasound definitely guarantee that my baby has Down syndrome?
No. Only 45% of people with Down syndrome ave a sandal gap on their feet (also according to the above referenced research report by the Korean Radiological Society). Just like epicanthal folds and short limbs, this is a variant that also occurs in individuals who do not have Down syndrome.
If you read my beautiful baby Julian’s birth story (yes, he has Down syndrome!), I mention that the doctors found NO SOFT MARKERS for Down syndrome in the ultrasound that we had at 18 weeks. After Julian was born and diagnosed with Down syndrome, I talked with my doctors about this because I was wondering what about the accuracy of detecting Down syndrome in ultrasounds? She answered that the accuracy rate is 30% for accurately predicting Down syndrome by just examining an ultrasound. I was very surprised by this.
After Julian was born, I had a very hard time with the diagnosis and even went so far to admit to myself that I thought I would have terminated my pregnancy had I found out that Julian had Down syndrome. I asked myself questions like “how could they have not “caught” this on the ultrasound? I was angry. Notice that I carefully use the words I “thought” of would have terminated the pregnancy because the reality of actually going through with terminating a pregancy is something that no one should have to go through in my opinion. Reading my birth story will tell you that I had bonded with Julian during those 18 weeks before the detailed ultrasound. He was MY BABY. How would I have ever gone through with just forgetting about the fact that he existed all together?
I have read some stories of women writing about their feelings about terminating their pregnancy and the grief they have felt forever afterwards. I have known friends who struggled with miscarriage after miscarriage, people who are unable to conceive. If you are able to conceive of a life, ANY life, I think it is important to think about what life really means to you. And to remember that there is NO definition of a perfect child. All individuals are perfect in their own way. Typically developing children can develop many sorts of “imperfect things” about them as they grow up. There is no predictions about life. No guarantees.
Look around you – there are so many different people in this world. Perhaps you don’t really “see” them. I didn’t before Julian was born. Today, I am a different person. I am kinder, more forgiving, more patient. Aren’t those all qualities that everyone strives for? I can truly say that Julian coming into my life changed me dramatically for the better (despite having a very rough go of it in the beginning!)
Looking back, I realize that my views of wanting to have never brought Julian into this world come from a place of fear and ignorance. I did not have many experiences with individuals with Down syndrome or any other type of disability, so of course I thought that I would never want to have a child with special needs. Guess what? I have a child with special needs and it is not that different from raising a typical child. Sure, I have my fears about his future and I don’t want this post to be too preachy (which I fear it already is) but I am here to tell you HONESTLY and TRULY about my life accepting my child’s diagnosis and accepting him for everything that he is. He is Julian.
Looking back, I am really glad that our little Julian chose not to “tell” us about his secret super chromosomes until after he was born. He thought that we needed a little Journey in our life – Julian’s Journey.
This is my little bundle of joy…my first born, my son – Julian Thomas Sherman. I am so proud of him. He is mine, and he is beautiful.
Here are some additional related resources (and blogs I love!)
Physical characteristics of Down syndome
read more at Noah’s Dad
PHOTOS of a cutie pie with Down syndrome who has a sandal gap
read more at Chronicles of Ellie Bellie Bear
Remember to follow me @Julians_Journey for updates!
I love comments and questions….
Thanks for reading!